As millennials look for more variety in their food choices, Dan Glendinning, National Sales and Marketing manager at Hormel Foods, says the company is tailoring its offerings to meet the demand.
“The Mexican and Latin-American influences have really grown,” he says. “We’ve seen some success with our carnitas and barbacoas within the industry.”
Canada represents one of the most diverse markets for ethnic cuisine in the world, he adds, noting Thai, Indian and other Asian cuisines have also taken centre stage in 2018.
With an influx of grocerants — combination spaces that serve a time-strapped population with ready-made meals — suppliers are finding a niche with millennials who may not have the time or skill to cook the meals they enjoy, or want to try.
Glendinning says beef brisket and other smoked-meat products have increased in sales and popularity in 2018. The company is currently working on introducing Korean barbecue-beef products, chicken tikki and more in 2019.
“The biggest part is [for chefs] to not be afraid to try new things,” Glendinning says. “We see items like a butter-chicken pizza or a Thai-style pizza — they’re looking for food outside of the norm. It comes down to not being afraid to incorporate, say, a chicken tinga into a topping for poutine.”
He also says operators need to capitalize on consumers’ curiosity by introducing foods that get them away from the “same-old, same-old” at restaurants. He notes Hormel’s offerings are also targeting the busy millennial who simply doesn’t have the time to prepare restaurant-style food at home.
“Millennials aren’t as skilled when it comes to cooking, but they want the uniqueness. We’re trying to take a grasp of international flavours and bring it into products that are fully ready to go and are easy to make while still providing the quality.”